An innovative technology acceleration programme that has raised £9 million for offshore wind entrepreneurs and attracted international industry sponsors, opens for new applications today (Wednesday).
The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s national Launch Academy has been running since 2019 and 20 companies have progressed through the nine-month programme that focuses on accelerating technology within the offshore renewables industry. Over £9 million has been raised in investment and companies have taken on 50 new staff since it began. The programme is designed to enhance the UK’s offshore wind supply chain, enable greater UK content and support cost reduction through innovation.
The 2021/22 programme was sponsored by bp and ScottishPower Renewables, and the wealth of industry expertise will increase further for the new 2022/23 intake as offshore wind giants Ørsted, Equinor and RWE feature alongside bp as industry sponsors.
Stephen Wyatt, Director of Strategy and Emerging Technologies at ORE Catapult, said: “It is fantastic to see how much the Launch Academy has grown over the past three years – attracting significant investment and recognition from across the offshore wind industry. I’m delighted to welcome Ørsted, Equinor, BP and RWE as the industry sponsors who will provide great value to all the companies joining this year’s programme. Launch Academy is the only Technology Accelerator dedicated to offshore wind early-stage companies which allows us to provide highly focused support, strong market pull and enthusiastic investors for leading innovators in the UK supply chain.”
Each year, Launch Academy chooses 10 high potential companies seeking to commercialise new products or services for the offshore wind market. The companies actively respond to challenges or themes from industry sponsors, guaranteeing market-pull for the cohort, and helping sponsors engage with the best solutions. The cohort-based approach also encourages each company to learn from the experience of the other participants.
To find out more and apply, click here
David Bould, Lead R&D Specialist at Ørsted, said: “Ørsted is delighted to be participating in the next round of ORE Catapult’s National Launch Academy. This programme clearly demonstrates what can be achieved when the offshore wind sector backs innovation in the supply chain. The mission of the National Launch Academy aligns with Ørsted’s own open innovation ethos, delivering greater impact through collaboration. We’re looking forward to seeing fascinating solutions from high growth potential companies working in the field of grid services.”
Richard Sandford, VP of UK offshore wind bp, said: “bp is delighted to sponsor the National Launch Academy for a second year. Giving more UK companies the opportunity to develop innovative offshore wind technologies is essential to accelerate the delivery of projects, helping to meet the government’s target of 50GW of offshore wind by 2030. bp’s ambition is to be one of the leading providers of offshore wind and programmes like this can help us get there. I look forward to seeing what industry-focused solutions come out of this cohort.”
Trine Borum Bojsen, SVP of North Sea Renewables at Equinor, said: “Equinor is committed to the UK offshore wind market, currently constructing Dogger Bank Wind Farm with our partners, advancing plans to expand our operational Sheringham Shoal and Dudgeon wind farms, and operating the world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland, off the coast of Aberdeen. We are keen to support the UK Government’s ambitions to secure 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030, and to reach that goal, innovation is a crucial piece of the puzzle.
“Equinor is pleased to be supporting this year’s cohort of the National Launch Academy and to continue the journey of developing the UK’s offshore wind supply chain. The British Energy Security Strategy will only be met with joint efforts by the industry, supply chain and communities, so we’re pleased to lend our expertise to support the acceleration of new technologies that can aid the development of our UK offshore wind portfolio.”
Phillipa Slater, RWE Director of Engineering, said: “RWE has one of the strongest offshore wind development pipelines in the world, and as such will need to be at the forefront of innovation, ensuring the company goes beyond the conventional and supports the drive for sustainability for itself and the broader offshore wind sector.
“Through our partnership with ORE Catapult for this year’s Launch Academy we have chosen three specific challenge themes that we see as having a real potential to make a difference while supporting innovation in the UK supply chain and playing a role in the commercialisation of a potential gamechanger.”